It’s Heart Month, the month of Valentine’s Day, and a time when our hearts turn to thoughts of love. What could be more romantic than doctors who share a passion for each other, and for healing young hearts?
Meet Drs. Aaron and Ginnie Abarbanell, who both work at the St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center. He, as a pediatric heart – or cardiac - surgeon, and she as a pediatric cardiologist. Their unified mission is to save the lives of children with heart disease. They both joined the Children’s Heart Center team in 2017.
“We went through our medical training sequentially. I finished, then Aaron started,” said Dr. Ginnie Abarbanell. “Each step of the way, we were thinking, ‘how is this going to work out with both of us in such closely related fields?’” Cardiology and cardiac surgery work hand-in-glove with one another.
As it turns out, everything is working out great. One of their more recent shared patients was Grayson, a one-day-old baby boy Dr. Ginnie diagnosed with a very rare defect called Cor Triatriatum dexter. After her diagnosis, Grayson’s parents were relieved to what was wrong, but had more questions about how to fix it.
That’s when Dr. Ginnie introduced Grayson and his family to her husband, who recommended open-heart surgery to repair his heart. Although Cor Triatriatum dexter is very rare, Dr. Aaron reassured Grayson’s parents that the steps of the procedure were very common. On Grayson’s second day of life. Dr. Aaron conducted open heart surgery to remove a membrane that was obstructing blood flow Grayson had a full recovery.
When speaking about the care they received, Grayson’s mother, Gennell, said, “We are very thankful that there are people like that. They have compassion and they show empathy and they are able to be talented but also be human with us.”
“We knew there would always be patients who would overlap with our practice areas,” said Dr. Aaron. “Being married to a pediatric cardiologist is certainly a benefit. Having somebody who can help me interpret the data and diagnostic challenges to determine the best surgery for the patient is invaluable.”
Both doctors consider themselves fortunate to be in a profession where their job is also their shared passion. And a mission close to everybody’s heart.